“She’ll move a mountain for you by the afternoon.” That’s a lyric from “A Mother Never Rests,” a song from Lori McKenna’s excellent 2018 album, The Tree, and a pretty good way to describe mothers everywhere. But the song hit me hard when I first heard it because so many lines felt like they were written for my mother. She’s “wakin’ up early / bringin’ light to everyone,” and “Even when she’s sleepin’ / she’s still dreamin’ about you” (and boy, did I know it those nights I came in after curfew).
McKenna isn’t the only great songwriter to honor a mama in song, of course. From classic voices (Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis) to modern artists (Kacey Musgraves, Jason Isbell, Leon Bridges, Brandi Carlile), it’s safe to say that moms have a well-documented place in the Southern songbook. In honor of Mother’s Day, we collected a dozen-plus tunes that celebrate the women who raised us. Stream the playlist on Spotify or listen to the tracks below, and be sure to tell your mom you love her—on Sunday and every day.
“A Mother Never Rests”—Lori McKenna
“Mama’s Eyes”—Justin Townes Earle
“The Mother”—Brandi Carlile
“In My Mother’s Eyes”—Ella Fitzgerald
“My Mother & I”—Lucy Dacus
“Coat of Many Colors”—Dolly Parton
“My Angel Mother”—Loretta Lynn
“Lisa Sawyer”—Leon Bridges
“Mother, the Queen of My Heart”—Jimmie Rodgers
“Children of Children”—Jason Isbell
“Hey Mama”—Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
“Mama Liked the Roses”—Elvis